Rural nursing homes react to Biden’s new vaccine requirement for staff

Published: Aug. 19, 2021 at 6:31 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 19, 2021 at 7:15 PM CDT
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MONROE, Wis. (WMTV) - Vaccinate staff or lose federal funding: this is the dilemma nursing homes across the country are facing.

That was President Joe Biden’s announcement Wednesday; every nursing home staff member must be vaccinated, or they will lose reimbursements from Medicare and Medicaid.

“We’re not going to achieve 100% [vaccine status], we know that,” Terry Snow, the administrator for Pleasant View Nursing Home in Monroe said.

Eighty percent of her 160 employees are vaccinated. Now, Snow is concerned about what will happen if that number doesn’t hit 100%.

“Eighty percent of our funding is from Medicare and Medicaid, we would close,” Snow said. “If we had to do this, if we decided to do this, the county of Green I’m sure would say, ‘you have to mandate this for all employees, so of course we would lose employees.’”

“Nursing homes disadvantaged when going for workforce, that seems unfair and uneven and we would’ve preferred to have collaborative approach,” John Sauer, CEO and Pres. Of Leading Age Wisconsin said.

Leading Age Wisconsin is a trade association for non-profit long-term care facilities and providers.

“I’ve talked to those leaders, the first thing they think about what the consequence and benefit to their residents is,” Sauer said. Snow said a decrease in staff means a decrease in care and attention to residents.

As she thinks about what comes next, Snow said she wants to see more realistic expectations for nursing home staff vaccinations.

“Those facilities that are at 60% or less than that, let’s work to get those [vaccine] numbers up,” Snow said.

The Biden Administration has not yet set a time frame for when nursing home staff must be vaccinated.

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